Once we settled down in the house, I asked if they had any crops that needed to be delivered to a store or mill in the area. They indicated their regular corn and wheat were usually taken to the mill run by Hattie’s family. However, Jeremy was to deliver three bushels of apples to a store in Sharpsburg, and Jonah was to deliver twenty bushels of corn (what they call feed corn) to a store in Boonsboro tomorrow.
I asked if it would cause any problems if I accompanied Jonah on his trip to Boonsboro. I needed to gather some info about the Yanks in the area. The Sage men looked at each other and Mr. Sage said that I would be spotted real quick, since everyone knew what I looked like from the Shepherdstown meeting at the church. My name and a description of the gunplay I had been a part of had been spread around the countryside. I thought on this for a moment and realized that my cover had been blown with all the hoopla at the town meeting.
I then asked if Jonah and Jeremy would mentally gather information and give it to me when they returned. This was okay with everyone and kept any danger to a minimum.
Mr. Sage then asked, “How will this information keep the Yanks from attacking us?”
I answered, “It won’t in the short run, but I believe it will in the long run. There is a fight brewing, and I believe it will be on the Maryland side of the river.”
“Well, what do we do to keep the Yanks out of our hair in the meantime?” he retorted.
“Well, I want you to go to the Yankee camp,” I said.
Before I could continue, he declared, “I ain’t gonna go to no Yankee Camp.”
I raised my hands with palms outward to him and continued, “Please Mr. Sage, let me finish because I do believe this will keep them off your back until they can be dealt with.”
He set his jaw, crossed his arms in front of his chest, and looked at me with a very hard stare.
I continued, “Ask to see the commander of the camp, and tell him that your boys have been bullied more than once by me at the school. They’re mad as hornets, and would be willing to gather information that can be used by the Union as to what I might be doing or who I am meeting with. If the commander asks why don’t you just shoot me yourself, tell them you would rather see me dangling from the end of a rope, choking, than from a quick death from a gun.”
Mr. Sage uncrossed his arms, turned, and paced back and forth before the fireplace for a few moments. Then he looked at me and said, “That just might work, but my part must be kept secret, or I could be killed as a traitor by both sides.”
I nodded and asserted, “Only we four and Mosby will know. The only question is whether you can play-act enough to get the Yank commander to believe you.”
“Don’t you worry about that, Jim. I can make him believe the Second Coming is gonna happen next week,” he retorted. We all laughed heartily at his quip.
I looked at Jonah and Jeremy and concluded “Well, then, I guess I need to tell y’all what to look for that will be helpful.” They both nodded and we sat down at their table for a confab.